Wednesday, 24 November 2010 14:49

Ex-Saint, Dallas Cowboys Coach Garrett Puts Jerry Jones In Good Mood

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Former Saints practice-squad quarterback and now interim Cowboys coach, Jason Garrett, has righted the Dallas ship in just two weeks with wins.

The Cowboys, before the season began, were the only team on the Saints' schedule that were favored by Las Vegas oddsmakers over the Super Bowl champs.

Dallas owner Jerry Jones is already thinking about giving of giving Garrett the head-coaching job in 2011. Everything is clicking for the 'Boys (3-7)and Jones is smiling again.

"When you're looking for crumbs, it doesn't take but a little piece to get you to smile and those wins have been a couple of nice little pieces," said the billionaire owner.

The Saints are 3 1/2-points favored over the 'Boys on Thursday at 3:15 p.m. at Dallas' new billion-dollar stadium.

A season that started with Super Bowl expectations faded into misery with a five-game losing streak that prompted Jones to make the first in-season coaching change of his ownership.

"I want to say it again: No fan should think I'm happy with the way things are," said Jones. ""I'm happy having two wins, but this has been a real disappointment as far as the season is concerned. And we have a lot of steps to make, but this gives us a good feeling going into the Thanksgiving game against the Saints."

This is not the matchup Fox envisioned when the schedule came out. The  Saints did their part with a 7-3 record, but the 'Boys did not do theirs. The network was hoping it would be something like when these teams met in the Superdome last December when the Saints were undefeated and the 'Boys were a playoff contender even after a two-game losing streak.

Dallas isn't a playoff contender this year. Sorry, 9-7 will not make it as a wild card, and it won't win the NFC East division.

Emotions can carry a team a few games. Maybe it will carry Dallas in a short week against the Saints. But the rest of the schedule isn't easy: Indianapolis, Philadelphia (twice), Washington and Arizona are left and only the Cardinals have a losing record.

Wade Phillips was fired as the Cowboys coach and he pointed out that he went out with the same winning percentage of Tom Landry, the Cowboys coach for years. "I don't feel too bad about my head-coaching career," said Phillips, who probably will get a job as defensive coordinator with a team.

The Saints signed a new long-snapper on Monday to replace Jake Ingram, who lost his job after a bad snap on an extra point forced holder Chase Daniel to try and run the ball in, and kicker Garrett Hartley missed his only field goal attempt (27 yards). On that play, however, coach Sean Payton said the  snap and the hold were clean.

The new long-snapper is Justin Drescher, 21, a rookie out of Colorado. Regular long-snapper Jason Kyle was placed on injured reserve last week.


Jason  Garrett talked about taking over a storied Cowboys franchise, Sean Payton, ripping off two straight wins and his thoughts on playing the Saints on Thursday.
How has it been taking over one of the most storied franchises in the league after such a difficult start to the season and ripping off two straight wins?
“It’s been kind of a whirlwind here the last few days, but we’re really just focused on what we need to do here every day to be honest with you. We had challenges immediately after the transition happened. We were going up and playing the Giants and so we had to hit the ground running on that Wednesday morning when the players came in. We’ve just been trying to put good days on top of each other and get ready for the game each week.”
Can you talk about your relationship with Sean Payton and your familiarity with him?
“I had the great fortune of playing for him for three years in New York. He was the offensive coordinator and I was one of the backup quarterbacks. We developed a great relationship. I consider him a friend. I definitely consider him a mentor.. I really, really cherish those experiences we had together. I really learned a tremendous amount really on a daily basis on so many different things.. Certainly he’s influenced me immensely as a coach.”
What have you seen differently from this year’s Saints defense than maybe from last year’s game?
“I think you see the same overall style. They’re an aggressive defense. They have some very good players. Gregg Williams does an outstanding job with scheme. They understand the importance of being aggressive and coming after the opposing offense really in every kind of situation. There are a couple of scheme wrinkles that are a little different, but I think that’s kind of typical of defenses from year to year. The thing we have to be ready for is their aggressiveness. They’re an awfully good defense.”
Obviously you’d like to have Tony Romo, but does working with an experienced backup like Jon Kitna benefit you at all?
“I just think we’re excited about having Jon as our quarterback. It was disappointing for us when Tony got hurt. He’s done so many good things for this franchise. To have a guy like Jon Kitna come in, a veteran guy like that who’s kind of a natural leader…Guys respond to him. He certainly has plenty of physical ability and experience. It’s exciting to have him as Tony’s backup and playing for our football team right now.”
Can you talk about the development of your first round pick Dez Bryant who really seems to be coming along lately?
“Dez is an awfully good football player. We liked him coming out of college. We were fortunate to be able to draft him. It’s really been remarkable the transition he’s made because as you guys may or may not know, he practiced for about a week or ten days in training camp and then he got hurt. He had a high ankle sprain that forced him to miss the rest of training camp and all the preseason games. For a young player to be able to come in at any position, miss that time and be able to make the transition that he has, it’s very impressive.”
Do you guys have to put that same type of aggressive approach out there defensively knowing what type of quarterback Drew Brees is?
“He’s a great player. He’s one of those guys that really has everything you want at the quarterback position. He’s a very natural leader. His team responds to him. He has great command of the offense and he certainly has all the physical abilities that you want. It’s a challenge to slow him down every time he breaks the huddle. We’re going to do our best to try to do that.”
Since taking over as head coach, what’s been your biggest adjustment in overseeing the whole team as opposed to one of three sides of the ball and have you done anything differently on a team level than Wade Phillips?
“I just think the responsibilities of a head coach are different than that of a coordinator. When I was an offensive coordinator, my sole responsibility and my focus was on the offensive side of the ball. When you’re a head coach, you can’t be that limited. You have to make sure you’re on top of what’s going on on defense and certainly the kicking game as well and you’re more involved in the personnel decisions that are happening. Your responsibilities have been expanded and you just have to be able to accept those things and handle them. We have an excellent staff. We have an excellent support staff and coaching staff. We have a bunch of experienced coaches who understand how to do their responsibilities. They’ve been a great help to me in making this transition and regarding any wrinkles or anything that have come with me being the head coach, I think it’s about me working hard every day. There are some logistical things we’ve changed, but primarily we’ve been focused on everybody working to the best of their ability everyday, getting themselves ready for Sundays. Guys have responded well. They’ve practiced well. The last couple games have not been perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but we’ve found a way to win each of them. We’re going to be challenged on Thanksgiving when the Saints come to town. We’re excited about that opportunity.”

by Ed Staton
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Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography. | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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